By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
By Claire Lawton
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Anna Merlan
Nightjohn. The latest drama from acclaimed director Charles Burnett, about a slave child who learns to read. See James Mardis' review, "Bitter roots." Charles Burnett in attendance.
* The Typewriter, the Rifle, and the Movie Camera. A documentary about Samuel Fuller, who made some of the toughest films Hollywood ever saw. See Jimmy Fowler's review, "Basket-case studies." Screened with the Samuel Fuller-directed feature China Gate, about an attack on Communist munitions dumps in Indochina, which stars Angie Dickinson and Gene Barry. Adam Simon in attendance.
* Hate (La Haine). A French film that follows 24 violent hours in the lives of three friends. See Arnold Wayne Jones' review, "Intolerance."
Sleepover. This no-budget feature looks at adolescence, dispensing with the usual "teen movie" cliches. Not available for review. Director John Sullivan and producer Jim McNally in attendance.
Monday, April 22
Bandwagon. A comedy-music road movie about a North Carolina band on its first tour. Not available for review. Director John Schulz in attendance.
Last Summer in the Hamptons. Before you see the newest comedy-drama-confessional by self-proclaimed "male lesbian" Henry Jaglom, attend the April 21, 7 p.m. screening of the documentary profile, Who Is Henry Jaglom? That will help the uninitiated decide whether the 50ish Jaglom is a male-feminist pioneer who preserves the secrets of American women's lives, or a jive-talking poseur with a desperate need to control. Last Summer in the Hamptons features a cast of dozens, all of whom gather for a summer at the Long Island country home of a New York theatrical legend (Viveca Lindfors, who died after filming last year). In its mixture of interfamily sexual escapades and ceremonial tensions, the film suggests a bohemian version of Robert Altman's A Wedding. The screen magnetism of stage legend and '40s film star Viveca Lindfors--all square jaw, excitable eyes, and shock of snow-white hair--has not dimmed a bit, although director Jaglom records the performance not as a character study but more as a bull session from a legendary theatrical mind. Her role is entertaining either way. Gay playwright Jon Robin Baitz (The Substance of Fire) pops up as a playwright with shy Woody Allen mannerisms. Jaglom is a joy or a torture, depending on what you expect a movie to deliver. (JF)
Men of Reenaction. This routine documentary on Civil War reenactors seems almost formless, never rising much above what you might expect by turning a camera on at any event and having people talk into it. The film works best when its director, Jessica Yu, portrays the drama and theatricality of the weekend warriors in Confederate and Union garb as they storm the fields, march in unison, or talk about how acting the part of a soldier sometimes transports them. But Yu's silence, her not commenting directly on the activities--there is no narration, only interviews with the participants--imprints her seeming skepticism on the motivations of these people. There's a frustrating sense that Yu has oversimplified the deeper motivations of some of the people who enjoy reenacting, or at least relegated them to the background in favor of the odd radicals on whom she chooses to concentrate. Men of Reenaction is the documentary from Yu not to see at the Festival; opt instead for her exquisite piece among the "Short Stuff II" compilation, Breathing Lessons, showing Tuesday, April 23. Men of Reenaction is screened with The Hard Ride: Black Cowboys at the Circle 6 Ranch. (AWJ) Jessica Yu in attendance.
* The Hard Ride: Black Cowboys At The Circle 6 Ranch. Hard Ride opens to the mythic rhythms of a blues guitarist and a patchwork rhyme on the mysterious, less-than-legendary black cowboy. Both images, one of Texas bluesman Alfred "Snuff" Johnson and the other of real-life cowboy Albert Franks, are testaments to the undefiled world portrayed in this documentary about the people and traditions of the Circle 6 Ranch in Redwood, Texas. A.J. Walker Sr. established the working ranch and rodeo in 1947 for the benefit of other black cowboys who were not welcome on the established rodeo circuit. Since that time, the ranch and rodeo have become somewhat of a black cultural Mecca--where the teachings and skills of a bygone era are extended to weekend crowds of black families by present-day black cowboys. Hard Ride covers a lot of ground in a short time through the stories and images of Circle 6. Most impressive among the cultural offerings is the preparation of a gumbo feast. Alan Govenar, however, has concocted an awkward sketch of the black cowboy's modern-day world. His 26-minute documentary skips and sometimes saunters through lives deserving much more. To Govenar's credit, Hard Ride leaves the viewer with many lasting impressions. In fact, it seems you just haven't lived until you've seen cowboys--young and old--battling each other in a contest that involves wringing the necks of chickens. Screened with Men of Reenaction. (JM)
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